Cop Dictionary - definitions of the slang
Like any subculture in today's society, cops have their own lingo. We kinda figure that
there will be people who want to know what we're saying (like you people with scanners).
The TV shows are more than a little off base.
Cop lingo will vary from agency to agency, so these examples may or may not be in use
by the locals in your area.
These examples should be taken at face value. The meanings and connotations can differ
depending on the circumstances in which they're used. For instance, if a police officer
has ever referred to you as "my chip" in your presence, while it is mildly
irreverent, it would be understood by the other cops that you're more than a passing fad.
This would be akin to someone saying "This is my main squeeze" or similar
33 - (slang) - To respond high priority, specifically to use lights and sirens.
Dispatch dropped a burglary in progress and I had to run 33 all the way across town.
Assist - (slang) - A call from another officer who is in trouble, extreme
priority. Not to be confused with a back-up or check-by, which is lower
priority. Assist intones life or physical well-being of officer is being threatened.
11X15, assist call, officer involved fight in progress, unknown weapons.
Back-up - (slang) - A call to stop by another officer's location or to aid
another officer as secondary unit.
Why does dispatch always send me as back-up on barking dog calls?
BOLO - (slang, acronym) - Pronounced "bo-lo", acronym for "Be On
the Look Out", an alert to watch out for something or someone. Typically used in
general broadcast messages. General public thinks "APB" is usually used to
describe this, which is not accurate, although some agencies may use it.
Dispatch to all units, get ready to copy a BOLO.
Check-by - (slang) - Like back-up, is properly used as an action but is
frequently used as a noun to define the person acting. Lower priority aid of another
officer, usually for safety purposes.
11X15, this big guy is pretty upset about getting stopped, can you send me a check-by?
Chip - (slang) - or Chippie - Girlfriend or mistress of a police officer.
This term has lightly sleazy overtones, generally meaning sexual activity is involved,
frequently an extra-marital affair. Sometimes is used irreverently to simply describe a
I went and saw my chip yesterday.
Choir practice - (slang) - Party, specifically one involving police. Usually
used to describe a gathering of officers and mistresses for alcohol consumption and
general hell-raising. Frequently held in a remote location.
We went out for choir practice last night, and I have one helluva hangover.
Direct - (proper) - Radio mode in which the repeater does not engage, very short
range. Radios in this mode transmit from car to car but not to base, even on same
frequency. Involves inverting the send/receive frequencies? Can be engaged on many radio
brands with a radio-face control button.
11X15 calling 20S22 on direct.
Dog Call - (slang) - Ridiculous request for police action. Coined from
"barking dog call", means any call in which the complainant could have / should
have resolved it without requiring police. A distasteful, boring assignment.
I've had nothing but dog calls for the last two nights.
DWHUA - (slang, acronym) - Short version of "Driving With Head Up
The guy wasn't drunk, just severely DWHUA.
Gangbanger - (slang) - Formerly used to describe group sexual activity, now
typically means a person involved in criminally oriented street gangs.
I found out where those gangbangers are hanging out.
GB - (slang, acronym) - General broadcast, to use the radio to make a
frequency-wide inquisition or request for something.
11X15 to dispatch, can you GB a wrecker for me?
Hit - (slang) - Active warrant. Meaning the person is wanted, can also mean a
stolen item. Implies that a police computer response has shown an alert on the item or
Dispatch to 11X15, return on your DL shows 3 TCIC hits out of Dallas, confirming now.
Hook - (slang) - an auto wrecker, vehicle designed for towing other vehicles, or
a wrecker driver.
11X15 arriving on the accident scene, send me two hooks.
Jaws - (slang) - "Jaws of Life", heavy rescue item used to pry open
vehicles. Similar in shape to a pair of pliers only much larger and driven off of
hydraulics or air pressure. Is fully capable of cutting a car in half.
11X15 to dispatch, I've got one trapped, send me jaws.
OD - (slang, acronym) - Where this typically means "overdose" to the
public at large, in cop lingo it means to go "off duty", off the air and done
for the day.
11X15 to dispatch, show me OD.
PC - (slang, acronym) - Probable Cause. Evidence sufficient to effect an arrest
or search, where a reasonable and prudent person would believe that a crime has been / is
being committed or was imminent.
When I saw that crack pipe, that was all the PC I needed.
Pop - (slang) - To arrest, or the act of effecting legal charges on a person.
When are you going to pop that turd?
PR-24 - (proper) - The actual nomenclature for an L-shaped style of police
baton. The acronym stands for "Public Relations - 24 Inch".
The turd wanted to fight, so I just whacked him a couple of times with my PR-24.
Rabbit - (slang) - Used to describe fleeing or subject who flees, to run from
When I told him to place his hands behind his back, he went rabbit on me.
Run hot - (slang) - To respond high priority. See 33.
Scrote - (slang) - Criminal type. See Turd. Short for 'scrotum'.
That kid you bagged yesterday is a real scrote.
Shop - (slang) - A police officer's place of business, meaning his/her patrol
They just put a new radar in my shop.
SO - (slang, acronym) - Several meanings, the two most common - 1) Sheriff's
Office - The local county level law enforcement agency 2) Sign on duty, to go in service.
Combined with a numerical value to indicate how many officers are assigned to that patrol
Dispatch to 11X15, I just got the hit confirmed through the SO.
11X15 hold me SO one time.
The Rule - (slang) - Also frequently used by attorneys, this term means court
action to not allow witnesses to hear other witness testimony, in an effort to insure
truthfulness. Commonly used with "invoke" leading.
I don't know what all was said, they invoked the rule.
Turd - (slang) - A criminal type, not necessarily a convicted one. Someone
perceived to be a potential or ongoing problem child. Frequently associated with grungy
I ID'ed a couple of turds last night hanging around the parking lot.